By: Mollie Lastovica
Taylor Whittlesey, sophomore agricultural leadership and development student, is a member of a four-person team devoted to ending world hunger through education and youth development. Team Green Eggs and Ham, comprised of Texas A&M Students, is competing in the 2013 Thought for Food Challenge.
Thought for Food is a movement focused on food security and feeding the world. Through innovation and collaboration, the group hopes to meet the global challenge of feeding a rising population while enhancing community and fostering creativity worldwide. To do that, they created the Thought for Food Challenge which called upon students in universities across the globe to submit project proposals suggesting an out of the box solution to combating world hunger. Whittlesey and her teammates answered that call.
“I love serving people,” Whittlesey said. “When I heard about the project from Julie Borlaug and through my boss Gabe Saldana, I thought it would be an awesome opportunity to resolve world hunger. Then I discovered a few people working in the Borlaug offices were forming a team and the rest was history!”
Along with her teammates, Ana Monzon, graduate student in the Bush School of Government, Hannah Ahn, graduate student in the Bush School of Government, and John Spikes, sophomore international studies major, Whittlesey has been working hard to use her passion for agriculture to help people globally.
“I care about people and hate seeing them in pain when I have so much here,” Whittlesey said. “Poverty and lack of transportation of food are the major causes of world hunger. After traveling to Guatemala in high school and seeing the poverty and struggle for youth education there, I became passionate about teaching children sustainable agriculture for better nutrition and health in their homes and communities.”
Thus, the group’s Aggietarium was born and with success in the Thought for Food Challenge, the project will be brought to life.
“Aggietarium is a center for children to come and learn about agricultural processes,” Whittlesey said. “We have three components to the center including indoor exhibits where presenters and classes will take place, outdoor exhibits including a garden, small farm and biodigestor and a website and television show hosted by the children who participate in the center. They will create and share information with other kids at Aggietariums around the world.”
While Whittlesey says the project is already underway, winning the Thought for Food Challenge would help to build a facility and implement the project worldwide. Round one of the challenge includes voting by the public and the top five teams will win $1,000 to start up the project and a trip to Berlin to pitch the idea to a panel of judges. From those top five, the winner will receive $10,000 to initiate their project.
“I am already using parts of our project in my travel to the Dominican Republic this summer,” Whittlesey said. “Our project is already in motion, we just lack the facility. Teaching sustainable agriculture to developing nations is critical to solving world hunger. We have the knowledge, we just have to spread it!”
In their commitment to global awareness and food security, Team Green Eggs and Ham used the strengths of each of its team members to create a well-rounded proposal and project. Whittlesey believes that her ALED courses have helped her throughout the process.
“All of my agriculture classes have applied directly to this project,” Whittlesey said. “ALED has helped me learn to think of the big picture and steps in planning projects, especially the Aggietarium. Through learning more about myself, I have begun to understand what my strengths and weaknesses are and I appreciate the strengths of my teammates that might be my personal weaknesses.”
To vote for Team Green Eggs and Ham’s project, log on to Facebook, visit their website and click ‘like’ to vote. Polls close May 10 and finalists will be announced May 20. Whittlesey encourages everyone to learn more about the Aggietarium and Team Green Eggs and Ham’s mission by exploring their website and liking their Facebook page.
“We, as students, are learning to be experts and educators in our field,” Whittlesey said. “Our job is to initiate change in local communities in order to have widespread effect on nutrition and health in the world. This begins with teaching the next generation.”